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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
TELL THE STORY
August 22, 1997
(Ms. Yvonne Daily): I am Yvonne Daily and today is August 22,
1997. I'm at Mrs. Chrystal Roache's home and I'm going to be
interviewing her and her mother will be sitting in on the interview
also. This is Side #1 of the tape.
Well Mrs. Roache, I, I'm starting the interview and I'm going
to be starting the first set of questions or asking you the first
set of questions regarding family life.
Where were your parents born?
(Mrs. Chrystal Roache): My parents were both born here in
Miami, Florida in the Overtown area. My mom was born around ah,
well, was born September 7, 1910 and my father was born umm was
-born in the...genera-1, same general Overtown area, I think it was
around Northwest Seventeenth Street and around 1912 and ah I think
it was September, October...December 17th, around 1912.
(Ms. Daily): Did you ever live in Overtown? I know they were
born there but...
(Mrs. Roache): Yes. Yes, we lived there and, in fact, we
lived...I lived there with my mom until 1960. What sorts of jobs
did they have. My mother was employed with the Dade County School
System as a teacher and my father was employed with the City of
Miami as a playground supervisor, ah he also was in the education
area prior to that.
(Ms. Daily): Where were your grandparents born?
(Mrs. Roache): My grandmother was born in ah Key West Florida
and my grandfather was born in Nassau in the Bahamas.
(Ms. Daily): Did they ever live in Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): Yes, they both owned property on Northwest
Ninth Street where we grew up in the family, on the family property
(Ms. Daily): What years did they live in Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): They lived there from I guess from the early
1900's. My grandparents lived in the Overtown area from the early
1900's. I can remember my grandmother umm said that her parents
brought her to Miami to go to school because they didn't have a
school to attend in Key West so I guess that was from either late
1990's or 1890's or 1900's until my grandmother's death which was
.around 1960 something, I can't remember exactly. I need mom to
-give me those dates,- she remembers dates and things like that. So
we have lived in the Overtown area for many, many years.
(Ms. Daily): What sorts of jobs did your grandparents have?
(Mrs. Roache): My grandmother umm did not go out to work. I
can remember she, umm...there were some wealthy white people that
brought laundry into her home and she did the washing and ironing
there at home for them. My grandfather was a fisherman and who
owned fishing boats. He also transported umm people from Nassau to
Miami. I guess they say he was one of the early cruise lines at
that time, that he owed a couple of fishing boats so he did not
work outside but he had his own business so to speak.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe what it was like growing up
in your parent's household?
(Mrs. Roache): I think as I look back and as I listen to
others describe their childhood during that time, I think I, I had
a very good childhood. My parents were able to provide ah for me
most of the...everything I needed and (laughter) a lot of the
thinks that I wanted. I remember since our family owned the
property on which we lived and across the street my grandfather's
sister owned additional property, we had a very large family
compound there and ah there were quite a number of youngsters. We
had ah, I had a lot of cousins my age and, so basically my little
world was right there in the neighborhood with my family, where my
friends and I think my childhood was, I would say kind of
privileged at that time. Umm my mom being an educator umm was able
-to provide a lot of things that I needed in terms of academies and
-keep me moving and- I remember taking music lessons and dance
lessons and those kind of things so I think I had a really special
kind of childhood. Also remember umm going with the, with the
school on trip, out of town and umm being involved in clubs and
those kind of things so I think I...I really think I had a good
childhood. My father was very popular, having gone to Florida A&M
and being a big football player and he was well known in the city
so ah you know any place I went, anybody knew of my parents and
knew me, I was kind of special, we were, we were kind of, my
brother and I were kind of special so I think I had a wonderful
(Ms. Daily): The second set of questions will be regarding
employment from 1945 to 1970. Describe the jobs you had.
(Mrs. Roache): That's easy. Umm my very first job was with
the Dade County Public Schools after graduating from college and I
was employed as a teacher and I worked in Dade County Schools for
38 years in various capacities. First, as I said, as an elementary
school teacher, teaching grades kindergarten through 6th grade.
Then I was what they call a teacher on special assignment, ah and
that was like a helping teacher. I went around and visited various
schools and assisted teachers in implementing some of the new
curriculum ah ventures that Dade County was going into. I did that
for, oh, I guess 10 15 years. I became an administrator as an
assistant principal umm at several elementary schools, did that for
about 5 or 6 years and then as I ended my career of, of an
elementary school and did that for about 9 years. So I guess my
"entire employment experiences have been with Dade County Public
(Ms. Daily): And what years did you have, did you hold these
(Mrs. Roache): I began working in 1960 and I retired at the
end of the 1996 school year.
(Ms. Daily): What kind of hours did you work?
(Mrs. Roache): Well, my hours have always been what I call
extended because as a teacher, I guess I was a little over zealous
and I spent a few extra hours in preparation for my work and, of
course, as an administrator, your hours are there hours. You just
stayed until the job was done. I guess I ended my career with long
hours because as a principal you became quite responsible for the
total operation of the school whether it be someone breaking in the
school in the middle of night or weekend activities ah but my
regular hours generally on a good day was 7:45 to around 6:00.
Those evenings we had special meetings with parents or special
activities because I worked a good distance away from home I
generally just stayed at school until the end of the activities
which might be 9:30 or 10:00 at night and so they were not...my
hours were whatever the job required.
(Ms. Daily): When and why did you leave those jobs?
(Mrs. Roache): I left each job as an, as another assignment,
a different kind of assignment if it was not, well it, they were
all looked at as promotions and moving into different kinds of
responsibilities and I left the jobs as I was targeted as a
-perspective candidate for the job or I applied for something
different of some new venture I thought I wanted to go into.
(Ms. Daily): How did you find work?
(Mrs. Roache): I, I found every job just challenging and the
most enjoyable thing I'd ever done. Each job I went to afforded me
opportunity of working with new people and children and various
kinds of programs. I just loved every job I had and I always hated
to leave each one but ah, I just loved my jobs and I think right,
at this moment, I haven't gotten use to idea of being retired yet.
(Ms. Daily): But umm, like finding work in the school system
was it easy? How did you find it?
(Mrs. Roache): No. I don't say it was easy. It was
challenging. I guess umm the very first jobs I had, I think it was
challenging in that ah, I worked in, in the general, in our
neighborhood, where I lived and, of course, many times many of
children came to school having ah just the bare necessities and umm
a minimum of experience with educational ah materials or, or having
been exposed to little but I also found, was ready to learn and the
parents were eager to have you work with the children. I think
initially, ah children were, teachers were allowed to be a lot
closer to children. In this day there is so much umm, I guess you
have to be so careful about getting too close to children but when
I began teaching initially I remember it was nothing for me to have
some of the girls come and spend a weekend with me and we just
really became like a part of my family. Ah parents would think
.nothing of having you keep their children, or, or whatever you
-needed to do to-help-the children learn so I don't say it was easy,
it was enjoyable, it was challenging. Umm, but I guess if that was
what you like to do that was easy, it was never anything that I
didn't want to do. I remember also during those days, we went, we
did a lot in terms of going out in into homes and working with,
getting really close to the family and so when you taught one, you
generally got parents wanting you to teach the next and the next so
you got to be really involved with the family. Umm, as I went on
for a few years after my initial employment there came a point when
Dade County decided that they were going to integrate the schools
and that era...that time was a little turbulent in that we were
targeted, some of us were targeted to move to other schools and we
never knew why were selected. I happened to have been selected to
integrate one of schools here in Miami. I don't why I was selected
but we were just told that we were going to be reassigned to, to
schools for the following year. In fact, I remember getting a
letter saying that I was being reassigned to a school and I
realized that it was school that umm, what we called the White
Schools because at that time we were segregated. We worked in
segregated schools and I didn't know why I was being reassigned.
I didn't know what to expect so I was just told to show up and
that's what I did and I remember going to this school, well just
before going, I wanted to find out where the school was located and
I happened to go there and I saw, I remember, I went into the
school and the principal was there and I had a chance to meet her
and ah she, I guess she was kind of...as surprised as I was because
-amaybe she didn't know, I don't know whether she knew or if she knew
but she appeared not to know too much about why I was coming either
ah so I reported to school the ah, on the day that teachers were
assigned to come and I remember going in...the teachers met in the
cafeteria that first day and so I went early because I was a little
apprehensive and so I wanted to be on time. I went early and I
sat, I remember I must have been the first person there and the
principal told me to go the cafeteria that, that would be where the
teachers would be meeting and I went there and I sat and as
teachers began to come in, I noticed that I was just sitting there
by myself and they gathered wherever they sat but nobody kind of
sat anywhere where I was sitting and I called myself sitting like
in the front, you know not in the back and I remember sitting there
and umm here were, when...I guess when it was time to start the
meeting the principal introduced me as being someone that was sent
to her. Ah we have a teacher, a person who's been sent to us to
teach in our schools is what she said and that was just all she
said. She told them my name and that was it. Well, I guess...it,
I had a pretty good self-concept at that time so it really didn't
bother me because I, I kind of felt like I was a good teacher
anyway. Having had a lot of experiences and I worked during the
summer with many new programs, it appears that during that time
whenever there was going to be a new program or a new idea, they
tried it out in the Black schools first, I guess to see whether or
not it was going to work or what have you and because...and they
.usually did that in the summer time and ah I was lucky in that I,
-well I think had children and I needed to work in the summer so I
worked during the summer and had an opportunity to experience those
new ideas so as the year went on, my first year at school, I found
that some of programs ah that they were bringing into the school
were programs which I had already had some experience and so they
weren't new to me. I was the only Black personnel staff in terms
of teacher, in fact, there were only two Black people in the
school. I was one and they had a custodian and at that time they
called them maids. They had a maid and I, I didn't have...I felt
kind of lonely in that I wanted someone to talk to and I remember
when I would go into the teacher's lounge during my...we had a
break period when the children when to another class, went out to
physical education, umm the teachers generally found somewhere to
go and lounge was...teacher's lounge was right near the P.E. field
and it seems that either the maid would come to clean the lounge
while I was there or it might have been her time to clean the
lounge but I would go in and...she wanted to talk to me but she did
not want to be seen talking to me. She would go in the bathroom
area and peep around the corner and talk to me from in the bathroom
as she was cleaning. I think one day someone came in and caught
her talking to me and must have reported that and the principal
called me to the office and ah later on that day she told me I
needed to be careful about talking with Mary, I think that was her
name, and because she reminded me that I was not on her level that
I was a different class, that she was below. Ah that bother me and
1 remembered another incident. My children, I noticed that the
-children referred to the male, the White male custodians as Mr.
Brown, Mr. Williams, whatever but they all called the lady Mary and
I remember telling my children in my classes her name was Mrs.
Jones, whatever and I had them call her that. Well again the
principal called me in the office and told me that, that was not
the way children were trained at home and that I should reframe
from trying to teach them something that was contrary to the
patterns of that there parents had ah established and that they
were to call her Mary. Umm they were the only two little incidents
I remember umm having to do with anything like that. I remember
when they...around Christmas time umm I was interested in music too
and I guess I had, had some experience with having been a marching
band in high school, we...they had just begun bringing some little
bells into the classrooms that umm the music teacher used as a part
of her program. Well I knew how to use them and I asked the music
teacher would she let me teach my children ah how to play bells or
if I could borrow them when she wasn't using them. She said yes
and so I had my...I taught my children to play some musical pieces
which we performed during the Christmas program, the first
Christmas program and the parents were just so...they were just
overwhelmed that I had done that with the children and many of them
told me that, the children did not tell them that I Black ah, they
were so surprised, of course, I was the only teacher in the school
that was Black and they had heard my name but the children I guess
never just said that I was Black teacher so many of them were
surprised at that. Umm but the parents were very warm, I, I really
"didn't have any negative experiences at all. Umm as I said, the
programs that they were bringing into the school, I had, had
experience with and so I kind of became like a helping teacher,
helping those teachers who wanted me to help with anything that I
knew and because we shared. I remember there were several teachers
who were from the north and they were very warm and friendly to me
ah then there were others who just didn't have too much to say to
me and that was okay too. So basically that was my experience of,
of integration and umm, I think the following year they brought in
additional teachers and then that was the beginning of integration
in Dade County Schools.
(Ms. Daily): How did you find work?
(Mrs. Roache): I had a car.
(Ms. Daily): Where did the other members of your family work?
(Mrs. Roache): My mother was a teacher at ah elementary
school and ah my brother, after finishing college, he became a
teacher, a music teacher at one of the senior high schools and we
all lived in the house together so we all were involved, as I said,
my father was supervising, Dade County...worked for Dade County
Parks and Recreation, he worked on the playground.
(Ms. Daily): Beginning in the late 1950's many immigrants
moved to Miami from the Caribbean including Cuba, Haiti and other
countries. Did those immigrants compete with Overtown residents
(Mrs. Roache): I think, yes they did. Umm, I know that there
were many people in the Overtown area that worked ah in service
jobs umm and I believe that ah, not that I believe, I know that
many of the immigrants that came to Miami had to take whatever work
that they could find and many times I would hear that they would
offer to work for lower wages and thereby they were able to
take...ah get jobs that traditionally jobs that the Blacks held,
in, in Miami and I think that was like in the hotels, restaurants,
those kind of jobs.
(Ms. Daily): Do you recall people moving into the area from
out of town other than the Caribbean?
(Mrs. Roache): Not in my...not where we lived because in umm,
the street where we lived, most of us were home owners and umm as
I said, umm they did build, I remember they built an apartment
building near and umm I guess that probably was the first, they
were probably the first group of people who moved into the
neighborhood and umm I don't know where they...I wouldn't be able
to say that they were not from the Caribbean because I think many
of them came from other places in the United States. I know
Georgia and ah probably Alabama were places that a lot of the kids
ah were from, I remember that.
(Ms. Daily): Where did they live in Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): They lived, most of...well, my experience
basically was a lot around my neighborhood. My mom and dad were
kind of strict and they didn't let me go to far so I guess I would
only be able to say that they lived where, you know on the streets
when they built the apartments, they lived on the street where we
lived but I wouldn't know too much about wherever else they lived,
because I didn't...whenever we went off with my mom and dad, took
us ah in the car or wherever so I really...and as I said, my
friends basically were my family members so I didn't get around in
the neighborhood too much other than going to school and coming
home but they began to build a lot of apartment buildings around in
that neighborhood and that would be where I knew the people who
came from out of town generally moved into those buildings. There
were a lot of two and three story apartments being built around
(Ms. Daily): Ah, could you tell what kind, what sort of jobs
did they had?
(Mrs. Roache): I would not know really, I don't know umm...no
I wouldn't know. I would just think that they were regular blue
collar workers, I believe.
(Ms. Daily): This the third set of questions umm will be
regarding ah businesses, whether you or your parents or
grandparents, if you can remember, owned any business in Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): Umm yes. Well, my parents ran...had a rooming
house. We had rooming houses, I guess, that was a business. Umm
my dad had a, had a fish market but it wasn't in Overtown it was
like in the Liberty area at that time. The area where we lived
were ah...my uncle had a, had a little night club like on Third
Avenue. I guess, they use to call them beer gardens...is that what
they called them mama?
can't think of it.
(Mrs. Roache): They served food and beer, umm, ah Shedy's
Place was the name of it and that was on Third 'Avenue between -
Eighth and Ninth Street, that was my uncle's business. As I said,
my grandfather had a...owned his own umm, he had a fish market too
(Mama): Fish market.
(Mrs. Roache): He had a fish market too, mama.
(Mrs. Roache): No my grand-daddy, your daddy...
(Mama): My daddy?
(Mrs. Roache): He had his own ships, boats...
(Mama): He had his own ships.
(Mrs. Roache): ...and ran a fish, he was a fisherman and that
kind of thing.
(Mama): He had a fish market.
(Mrs. Roache): He...daddy...grandfather had a fish market
(Mama): Yeah, right on the corner,
(Mrs. Roache): On the corner where?
(Mama): Third Avenue on the north side, where Mrs. Mattie use
(Mrs. Roache): Okay, grandfather had a fish market on Third
Avenue. I don't remember that because my grandfather died before
I was born so I did not know that. Umm...who else, anybody else in
the family had business? Not really. Because of my,...my mom and
her sisters and cousins, who most being in education.
(Ms. Daily): But the principal business that your mom owned
in Overtown was the rooming houses.
(Mrs. Roache): Rooming houses, yeah.
(Ms. Daily): And where was it located?
(Mrs. Roache): On, between...on Ninth Street between umm
Second and Third Avenue, right next to the Dorsey umm house area.
(Ms. Daily): Umm, who were your employees at the rooming
house? Did you have employees?
(Mrs. Roache): There were people who...there was like
a...what do they call those men who...there as a Mr. Macky, what
would you call him, I remember him, Mr. Macky. What do you call
the people who supervise the building, you know, the...we had
someone who...one of the people who lived in the rooming house and
he was responsible for the cleaning and the collecting of the rent
and what not, and you know fixing up, of course there were...
(Mrs. Roacht): Hum?
(Ms. Daily): Caretaker.
(Mrs. Roache): No he wasn't a care...he was like a super,
super they call them...
(Mrs. Roache): ...whatever, something like that but umm and,
of course, there were people who did the ah...when something went
wrong we had carpenters and things like that who were friends and
mom would call, my grandparents would call them in to fix things
that were broken but we just had one man who did everything. He
lived on the premises.
(Ms. Daily): How did you find them so that he would be anr-
(Mrs. Roache): He lived in the...he just lived there.
(Ms. Daily): He lived there.
(Mrs. Roache): Yeah and he just kind of took over, un hun.
He became responsible, he didn't work, he was handicap so he didn't
work outside so that was like his little employment there.
(Ms. Daily): Ah, who were your customers?
(Mrs. Roache): The people who lived in the rooming house,
basically who were they mama? Just people who, who came to...and,
of course there were some other houses, small houses on the
property and they were just people who needed some place to live.
They were not people that were transient who came and left. They
were just people who just rented rooms and just stayed there,
rented the houses and stayed there.
(Ms. Daily): Did you have competition with the rooming?
(Mrs. Roache): Not really, no.
(Ms. Daily): When and why did you move the rooming house or
close it down?
(Mrs. Roache): Well we had to close down the rooming house
because the area began to change and it was difficult to keep
steady people living there. Ah I guess this was during the time
when a lot of people moved out of the area after the 1-95
construction and umm the stable people no longer lived in that area
so we had people who were more transient in that they would come
in, live for a few weeks and when they found out they couldn't pay,
they would leave and ah it became more difficult to get people to-
stay there and be responsible to take care of the place and it was
difficult keeping it rented ah because of crime and ah then the
whole general neighborhood began to change and for the purpose of
safety, we had to just close it down.
(Ms. Daily): Can you approximate a time that you closed?
(Mrs. Roache): Mom, when did we stop renting the place?
(Mama): In the late '80s.
(Mrs. Roache): Around 1980?
(Mama): The late '80s, yeah, beginning of the '80s right,
late '90s, late '70s.
(Mrs. Roache): '79, '80 around 1979 or '80.
(Ms. Daily): Ah and you just closed down, you didn't change
or try to do anymore of that kind of business?
(Mrs. Roache): No, no. We finally just tore all the houses
down, the land is still there but there is no...no more of that.
(Ms. Daily): And do you still own the land?
(Mrs. Roache): Yes, we still own the land.
(Ms. Daily): Now this other next set of questions will be
regarding neighborhood life between 1945 and 1970. Could you
describe your place of residence between those years?
(Mrs. Roache): My place of residence was umm one of the
homes, one of the family homes that was on that property. There
were several houses and a large rooming house and the two large
houses in the front, on the front property, my mom and our family
lived in one and my grandmother and my mom's sisters lived in the
other and that was right on the front, on the corner of Ninths-
Street, between Second and Third Avenue. Ah the houses that we
lived in were large houses, they were, how many bedrooms mama?
About 3 or 4?
(Mama): I think 3
(Mrs. Roache): About 3 or 4 bedrooms, a living-room, a large
screened-in closed-in porch, kitchen, bathroom and both houses were
about a like so they were quite spacious.
(Ms. Daily): Who lived in your household?
(Mrs. Roache): My mother and my brother and my dad and
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe the street where you lived?
(Mrs. Roache): Yeah. Ninth Street was a special street. Ah,
it was a street on which, as I said, my family lived. Across the
street, my ah grandfather's sister had umm quite a number of houses
and rental, ah large rooming houses, so basically my family lived
on Ninth Street. Umm, I remember we lived 2 doors down from the
Dorsey house and Mr. Dorsey was suppose to have been the first...he
was the first millionaire, Black millionaire in Miami. So Ninth
Street was a really special kind of street because of most of the
people who lived on my...Ninth Street, I guess were people who were
home owners, and, and kind of that was kind of the nicest part of
town. I remember ah, down the street, a couple of doors down was
a large building that housed the Atlanta Life Insurance Company and
quite...a couple of other little small businesses and my friends'
parents lived upstairs. They had rooms...ah places of residence
upstairs. It was a street umm that had a lot of activity on it umm-,
as I said it was, it was really suppose to be "The Street" to live-
on. It was across the street from umm Mt. Zion Baptist Church and
down the street from the parsonage where Reverend Graham lived. I
remember Mary McLeod Bethune coming to visit Miami and she, she
stayed down there and we got a chance to see all the special people
who would come in the neighborhood. After they built the Carver
Hotel next door to our property and that was a big brand new hotel,
one of the first Black Hotems, one other than the Mary Elizabeth
and, of course, again that was really a special kind of place
because all the fine and fancy people came ah to live in the Carver
Hotel and so it was just a really, a street that there was a lot of
activity and ah a lot of businesses and it was in the hub of town
in the better part of what was Overtown at that time. Right down
the street from ah the Rockland Place, the Harlem Square right in
the same general neighborhood where all the night clubs were a
little further down so on our end of town, that's where everything
was happening down there.
(Ms. Daily): Who were your neighbors?
(Mrs. Roache): Our neighbors, as I said, I remember the
Dorseys, I remember ah Dr. Lowery who was one of the first Black
doctors who lived on our street, umm my family and ah who else was
on that street mama, can you think of anybody else?
(Mama): The Cola Nip people, they were one, they had Cola
(Mrs. Roache): The bottling company?
(Mama): Umm hum but that's was there you're talking about.
(Mrs. Roache): Neighbors like children, people who lived on.
the street, anybody else?
(Mama): I understand.
(Mrs. Roache): Mrs. Miller, what did they do...
(Mama): I don't know.
(Mrs. Roache): They were they were teachers and
I guess that I...anybody else?
(Mama): You said the Loweries?
(Mrs. Roache): The Loweries, Dr. Lowery and his family and
Reverend Graham, they lived on this street. Umm Grace, Grace and
those, I don't know. There were a couple of other teachers, you
know, that lived in that neighborhood.
(Ms. Daily): Ah where did they work?
(Mrs. Roache): Some, most of them had their own businesses,
the doctors had his own office and the Reverend had his church,
that was a parsonage. Ah, Ann's mom was ah...lived, she had a
beauty salon upstairs, ah their were people who lived or worked at
the Atlantic Life Insurance Company which was right on the same
street and a couple of them taught school at some of the...in some
of the schools, my mom taught and my, my relatives they taught in
Dade County Schools so we...that's what most of them did.
(Ms. Daily): What happened to those neighbors?
(Mrs. Roache): They moved, I guess as the neighborhood began
to change. They moved out, in fact, we moved from Ninth Street to
where we are not and our family, our other relatives that lived
across the street moved out to this area. The neighborhood hadd-
begun to change at that time and umm Mom and those wanted a
different neighborhood and some of these homes and that's why we
moved and I guess they moved for the same general reason. I know
ah, the 1-95 construction came through that area and so a lot of
them moved because of that also.
(Ms. Daily): Do you know where they went? Where did they go?
(Mrs. Roache): Yeah, the same area right around here what we
generally...we call it Liberty City but it's not exactly Liberty
City but it's in this area. Some of them went to Opa Locka.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe the main business areas you
went to in Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): Well as a child, I can remember that umm
every...basically everything we did was in our general
neighborhood. Umm he beauty salons, the ho...the restaurants,
the...I remember they had a clothing store, you remember umm
Leonard's Clothing Store was in the neighborhood.
(Mrs. Roache): Umm the ice cream parlors. Every thing that
we did was right there in on neighborhood.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where your family bought
(Mrs. Roache): I remember we went to the Tip Top, was a
grocery that was, I guess it was a few blocks away. Umm it was a
very large grocery and ah supermarket I guess you would call it at
that time, it was one of the first supermarkets, and that's where we
shopped at the supermarket
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where your family went the
barber shop or the beauty shop?
(Mrs. Roache): Ah yes, we went right on Second Avenue, in the
neighborhood and umm there were, there were several barber shops,
in fact, one of my cousins was a barber right there on Second
Avenue and ah right there in the same, on the same street
basically, in between that same general neighborhood, ah I would
say between Seventh Street and Eleventh Street on Second Avenue,
all of those, that was a single area where we did everything.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where your family went to the
(Mrs. Roache): Yes, there was a drugstore that was right on
the corner, right across the right...a few doors away from where we
lived and that was, that was the drugstore right there.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where you went to the
(Mrs. Roache): Yes, my uncle had a cleaners that was ah about
2 or 3 blocks away on Second Avenue so it was right, it right there
in the neighborhood.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe the churches your family
(Mrs. Roache): Well my family attended St. Agnes Episcopal
Church which was a little further away but again it was in our
neighborhood. Ah a little further down, I would say a little
further north from where we were but we were members of St-.--
Agnes...we are members of St. Agnes Episcopal Church and that's on-
Seventeenth Street and Third Avenue.
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe where your family went for
entertainment such as theaters, bars, restaurants or sporting
(Mrs. Roache): Yes, umm again, I have to keep repeating, in
the neighborhood on Second Avenue there was a theater, the Ritz,
the Modern Theater in that area. Umm sporting events, I remember
going to the Dorsey Park, now my Dad play ah, my dad was a golfer
and I don't know how in the world he got to, to that but they use
to play golf and tennis on the...
(Mama): He played tennis around there.
(Mrs. Roache): Where did he play tennis.
(Mama): On Ninth Street, yeah right across the street on
(Mrs. Roache): I never knew that much about where dad went
but I knew he played golf and played tennis but they use to go...
(Mama): That tennis they went...golf they went, I don't know.
(Mrs. Roache): They went out. When they went to play golf,
they went out and I think they went to a White golf, golf, ah
because they didn't have that in the neighborhood. There was
not...but to play tennis, there was, there were parks right there
in the neighborhood but my dad played golf with some bther men and
I don't know, they would go away. I never went with them but I
know they went out of, of the neighborhood and that somewhere they
were allowed to go and play golf.
(Ms. Daily): When someone in your family got sick where did-
they go to the doctor's office?
(Mrs. Roache): Ah around the corner. The doctor's offices
were right around the corner from us. Ah there was Dr. Lowery and
Dr. Hogan, Dr...Dennis Hogan and Dr. Hogan, we were on Ninth Street
and they were on Eighth Street and they were right...we were Third
on, between Third and Second Avenue and they were Third Avenue,
right around the corner. We went across the street around the
corner to the doctor and to the dentist. It was the Christian
Hospital which was like on Eleventh Street right in the same
general neighborhood and Jackson Memorial Hospital was ah further
out but that, but we had the Christian Hospital which was right
there in the neighbor so generally we went there.
(Ms. Daily): How long did you continue to patronize those
(Mrs. Roache): As long as we lived there ah, I guess after I
started ah, when I got, when I became a teacher umm and I no longer
lived in the neighborhood then I shopped more so in the
neighborhood where I lived or where I worked but as long as we
lived in that area and those business were there, businesses were
there, we shopped there.
(Ms. Daily): When did you begin to shop or go to
entertainment outside of Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): As I said, I ah began to shop umm outside of
Overtown when I...
TAPE #1 SIDE #2
(Ms. Daily): ...97 umm interviewing Mrs. Chrystal Roache, -
this is a continuation on side two.
Okay Mrs. Roache, when did you begin to shop or go to
entertainment outside of Overtown?
(Ms. Daily): I would have to say I began to shop and go to
entertainment outside of Overtown when I ah moved from the area and
when I became employed in any schools that were outside of that
area I tried to ah do my shopping as close as I could to my place
of employment before I got home or some in that area.
(Ms. Daily): During the period from 1945 to 1970, what were
the main things that made Overtown a community?
(Mrs. Roache): I think the main things that made it a
community was the...first of all we had umm, we had everything that
we needed right there in the community and didn't have to go too
far to get all of our services and our goods. I think it was a
community because we had our schools and our...we had our number of
schools and churches in the area and ah we saw, we lived in the
area, we lived where we shopped and we lived where we went to
school and we saw the same people at church or in the schools or at
work and umm we saw them at...our entertainment and because there
was a closeness. I think after ah we became so dispersed in Miami
among and, and moved to so many areas, the community idea, the
community feeling began to, to disintegrate. I think when our
schools were...when our children were dispersed in schools
throughout Dade County for the sake for integration there were
families that were pulled apart because schools were paired with
other schools and children were being pulled several ways. Umm
parents no longer felt committed to any one school, ah parents
didn't feel committed to a school where their children were in a
minority and the children had to be bused and they couldn't get
there any other way but on a school bus so the children were no
longer able to participate in the extra-curricular activities and
parents didn't feel like they could get to the schools. Umm I
think when the people began to, to move out then the businesses
began to suffer. Ah, no longer were they only places that people
came to shop because they could go other places, they went wherever
they lived and so the businesses began to suffer and close down.
In fact, I saw the whole...it appears that the entire community
just ah, just died for the lack of having...it was no longer the,
hub or the vains of that, that body of people that lived there.
The vains that fed the people, that clothed them, that took care of
their needs because the people were gone and they...they were just
so spread out and I think that's when the community itself begin
to, to disintegrate.
(Ms. Daily): Since 1970, how has Overtown changed?
(Mrs. Roache): I think it's dead. It has died. I think
Overtown has changed in that it appears that people in the Overtown
area feel hopeless...
(Mama): They have no goals.
(Mrs. Roache): ...they appears that they have not been able
to pull themselves up and re, recapture what was lost. Ah the
businesses have not been able to come back ah and flourish, the
homes are no longer ah, many of them as, as; we did, many of the-
homes have just been torn down because umm, they could no survive
with not having people who were going to be stable and, and wanted
to live there. I guess the children have not ah, have suffered
because I think they see so much hopelessness in their families
sometimes until children may, may suffer for direction, may suffer
because they have not seen them get what so many other people have,
I mean these kids see ah on television, exposed to so many things
that they see everybody with and they don't see themselves in ever
being able to gain that or they have found the only way that they
can get things is by taking things that other people have and maybe
it appears sometimes that they have a feeling that anything goes,
it doesn't matter anymore, that you just take what you get and as
though someone owes it to you or, or and many times I don't think
our, our politicians have paid any attention to these areas other
than during the time when they want the votes. I don't think that
umm they have been able to get a piece of that pie that has been
promised to them that when Overtown, when, when the constructions
came back, we were suppose to bring these people back and as I have
seen that, other people have moved into the area. Ah other ethnic
groups have, have claimed so much of what use to be ours I look at
the high school that...and the elementary schools too that use to
be our schools are no longer our schools. They are-schools that
are populated by other people, we just go there, we just attend the
schools but we are not...they're not our schools anymore. My mom
taught at a school that use to just be, I mean it was a Black
school and now the population is changed so that it's no longer our
school even though it sets in our area, so many people are coming
into the area. It's just so different. I think I've not seen any,
any real venture that has been successful in terms of giving the
people in Overtown some hope and some help in being able to do
something from themselves other than feel hopeless. It appears
that they feel hopeless. We still go to church over there and, of
course there are churches that are trying to some things but ah,
it's just, it's such a devastating place. I don't, don't really
know the answer.
(Ms. Daily): It's just like your mother said, they have no
(Mrs. Roache): No goals. Exactly, no goals and nobody to
help them set any goals...no, politicians aren't there. The
teachers that are there are just there because they have to be
there and until they can get out of there, they, they are just
marking time. Ah anybody who, we go to church in that area, as
many...but we don't live there so we can't really say we are doing
anything. We may say we are going to help them and feed the
homeless and that kind...but are really not doing anything to help
that area because most of us who attend churches over there don't
live there. We just go because we go to those churches and I, I
just don't know the people seem so helpless and no goals and they
can't do it themselves and they don't want...they are unemployed
most of them or they may be employed at such a level that they are
just, just trying to survive. They are not in any decision making,_.
they are no, they're no, they are not the business people, they-
don't own anything so they really can't do anything.
(Ms. Daily): Now regarding 1-95. When and how did you first
hear about the building of I-95?
(Mrs. Roache): I guess I, I just heard about it through the
paper, what I read in the paper, what I heard in the news. I was
not really impact...it didn't impact my family so I...that's the
only way I knew, I knew there were friends of ours who were being
displaced and having to move into other areas.
(Ms. Daily): Ah, and where were you living then?
(Ms. Daily): We were living here in the house where we live
(Ms. Daily): That's 1150 Northwest Sixty-Six?
(Mrs. Roache): Yes, yes.
(Ms. Daily): What kind of reaction was there to the news that
the expressway would come through Overtown? What kind of reaction
was there to the news that the expressway would come through
(Mrs. Roache): I think the majority of the people in our...in
that area felt it was unfair because they were taking...they were,
they were moving people whose lives had been spent in that general
neighborhood, whose...not only their lives had been spent there
but, but many people's welfare, their, their, their means of making
a living was there. Ah, I don't know whether or not people felt
that, that expressway was going to help them because a lot of the
people over there didn't, didn't drive so I guess they couldn't see_
where that was going to benefit them. Ah, and because were-
made...being made to move into other areas, a lot of people were so
overwhelmed as to what to do, how t6 do it, where am I going, on
the other hand, their may have been some people who looked at it as
a blessing because there were some areas in the Overtown area,
there were some homes, houses in that area that were not the nicest
of places and maybe some of those people may have welcomed that ah
because maybe they felt that, that was going to be a way out and a
way to get themselves a nicer place but I think the majority of
people felt umm that it was just breaking up their community and I,
I think the majority of people were against it.
(Ms. Daily): Did you attend a meeting where it was discussed
or sign a petition or discuss the issue with public officials?
(Mrs. Roache): No I did not.
(Ms. Daily): What was the most important impact of the
expressway on you?
(Mrs. Roache): I guess the most impact on me was that my
family's rental homes were no longer going to be places of
desirable housing and because their were no longer people that
would be interested in keeping the place and living in them and
keeping them nice, they eventually had to tear them down.
(Ms. Daily): What was it like when the expressway was being
(Mrs. Roache): I really am finding it, finding it difficult
to say that because I didn't live in that area, I didn't work in
that area and I didn't travel in that area. Umm I do remember as_
the expressway got closer to where we live, umm it was just a lot-
of... it was a lot of construction and a lot of disruption of the
neighborhood. I remember that much but in the Overtown area, I did
not...I could not say about there.
(Ms. Daily): Ah, do you know if the community was able to get
anything in return for the 1-95 going through Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): I don't think so. I have no seen or heard or
of anything they got.
(Ms. Daily): How did 1-95 affect the community?
(Mrs. Roache): I think it just killed what we've had...I, I
think it just killed the community. It just killed, it suffocated
(Ms. Daily): To go on to the next set of questions-and before
I ask you these questions I'll ask you, umm this one first, did you
decide to move because of I-95?
(Mrs. Roache): No. No we didn't.
(Ms. Daily): When did you decide to ah...Although you did not
have to move because of 1-95, I'll ask you these two questions.
What was the mortgage or rent in your new place compared to
your former residence?
(Mrs. Roache): (Laughter) Well in our former residence, we
did not have a mortgage, we owned a home and, of course, moving
into a new place, we suddenly were faced with a Mort-gage and
umm...so we really, we did not have pay anything. We owned, we
had... you know it was a family owned residence and we had, had
been,-had been in the family for many, many years so it was owned
out right and then when we moved, we suddenly had to ah learn what-
it was like to pay a mortgage or pay rent.
(Ms. Daily): How did you choose your new residence?
(Mrs. Roache): We chose our new residence because my mom and
her sister lived next door to each other all their lives and, and
they bought a lot together and so we lived next door to each other.
(Ms. Daily): was the neighborhood in your new location
different from or similar to the neighborhood from which you moved?
(Ms. Daily): The neighborhood was different umm in that the
neighborhood where we lived, ah because of it being ah, ah a Black
community at that time and we lived in an area where there
businesses and, and h the hub of the Overtown area, when we moved
into the new neighborhood, it was more of a residential area and we
had to then begin to travel to do most of our business.
(Ms. Daily): Ah this set of questions are regarding 1-395 and
State Road 836 Do you know these?
(Mrs. Roache): Which ah, what are they now?
(Ms. Daily): 1-395, I think that's the highway that goes
over...an extension of 1-95 that goes over onto the Beach and State
Road 836 is the Palmetto.
When and how did you first hear about the building of 1-395
and State Road 836? 836 No, I'm making a mistake here. 836
wouldn't, wouldn't be the Palmetto. I'm not quite sure?
(Mrs. Roache): Yeah, 836, that's the Palmetto.
(Ms. Daily): That's the Palmetto?
---(Mrs. Roache): Yeah, that is umm hum, yeah. I heard about it
because I...in the job that I had at that time, with the school
system was traveling and it was going to be a way of getting to my
assigned schools, ah a faster way and so I knew that they existed
and I was just anxious to try them out because it got me to where
I need to go faster. So I, knew, you know, I knew it was an
extension of 1-95 and, and I anxiously awaited that openings
because it was going to cut down on the travel that I had to do.
(Ms. Daily): Did those two roads affect the community in any
(Mrs. Roache): I think it effected the community in that umm,
it may have helped ah lot of Blacks that had to go the Beach area
for employment, I think it helped them get to where they had to go,
those people who owned cars, they could get there faster. Umm but
in terms of the building, it may have affected very few because not
that many people in the comm...in the Black community lived in that
area so the only thing I think it might have been more of a benefit
than a, than a harm to the...now the 836 expressway, again, I think
helped in that there were Black communities that were further south
and those people who had to travel back and forth or get to friends
or family or to come to work that expressway has helped them in
that it made traveling easier.
(Ms. Daily): Now, regarding public housing, when and how did
you first hear about the building of public housing?
(Mrs. Roache): Umm, the first I know about the building of
5pblic housing was that my father was a supervisor of the first
public housing in Miami and that was the James E. Scott housing,
they call it "The Projects" but my dad use to supervise that area
so I knew that was public housing but that's the first I knew of
any public housing.
(Ms. Daily): Where were you living?
(Mrs. Roache): Right in...on Ninth Street.
(Ms. Daily): So approximately what time, I mean, no. I mean,
what I mean to ask is what year.
(Mrs. Roache): What year, what year? What year was that mama
when they first opened Liberty City housing project?
(Mama): Let's see now, in the...
(Mrs. Roache): In the early '40s right?
(Mama): In the early '40s or late, late '30s.
(Mrs. Roache): Yeah, that's the same thing, early '40s
around, I'd say like '42, something like that.
(Mama): You see those ah, those places, they, I think they
built, they built them around the late '30s.
(Mrs. Roache): Around the late '30? Around that time.
(Ms. Daily): What was the community was able to get from
public officials in return for public housing going through
(Mrs. Roache): What was the community able to get from public
(Ms. Daily): From public officials.
(Mrs. Roache): Nothing. I don't they got anything but mouth,
Tip service. They got votes but I don't did anything, they've done
anything for the community.
(Ms. Daily): How did public housing affect the community?
(Mrs. Roache): I think it negatively affected the community
in that...well may be I shouldn't say that, maybe it did help them
because it gave a lot of people affordable housing and supposedly
a facilities that they needed to have but I don't know whether or
not it made them dependent on handouts. I don't whether or not
some of those people would have gotten their own places if they
didn't have to, if they couldn't live there for little or nothing.
I can't say it helped. I'm just going to say I think it was
negative. Because I think that it caused a lot of us not to strive
or set some higher goals for ourselves.
(Ms. Daily): This is the second to last set regarding the
Metro-rail. When and how did you first hear about the building of
(Mrs. Roache): Well, again I heard about it through the news
and through newspapers and umm I guess that I would say that it's
been about 15 years ago maybe a little longer than that, I don't
remember and umm it was kind of exciting because I, I ah felt that
it was just something to bring Miami closer to mass transit and
would help those people who needed to be able to get around umm
through using public transportation.
(Ms. Daily): And, again, did you attend a meeting where it
was discussed or sign a petition or discuss the issue?
(Mrs. Roache): Ah, no I did not. No.
(Ms. Daily): What was the community able to get from public
officials in return for Metro-rail going through Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): Nothing.
(Ms. Daily): How did Metro-rail affect the community?
(Mrs. Roache): I guess Metro-rail, it may have ah helped a
few people get to where they needed to go for employment but again
it came through a lot of those areas where Blacks ah lived and
again it displaced some Blacks again. I can't see where it
has...it hasn't given as much as it's taken. Ah because I'm sure
some of those people who moved because of 1-95, moved again because
of Metro-rail because again it went through, through the Black
(Ms. Daily): The last set of questions are regarding the
future of the Overtown area.
What are the most important misconceptions about Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): I think the misconceptions about Overtown is
that ah, I believe many people feel like it's ah...many people who
have not grown up in this area may think that it's that it's always
been that way and I think ah the misconception is that it could
never be anything. I think that if there were...if the politician
and the educators and the people who make decisions and some other
federal funding programs could be invested in Overtown in an honest
effort to bring Blacks back into the community, I think Overtown
area may not be same as it was but it could certainly be better or
again be something different, a different kind of community. I
.think if ah, if housing and not always affordable housing but if
-housing ah, were housing, housing was placed in the Overtown area
that brought in a large cross-section of people, not only just
people ah who might be looking for something that they can afford
but people who could afford a lot better if they were provided with
housing that would bring...you have to people of many various
economic levels to have a community because you have to have, you
have to have ah people who could make some changes and establish
some, some businesses and offer something, offer some employment to
people. If you are only dealing with people who can just barely
afford to live there, you are not going to able to bring in a, ah,
ah cross-section of, of people who could make it grow. If you are
going to ah do something with the Overtown area, you have to
provide them with the best of schools, with the most stable kind
of, of teachers and stable administrators who are committed to stay
there, not just be there for a couple of years and move on but you
have to make it so attractive or make, make housing, make the
living so attractive that this will be where they live, this is
where they have a vested interest in that area. You have to make
it so that there are again jobs available to people that ah, that
will allow those people there who seem not to have a goal but
provide them with something that says I can make it. I think the
misconception that nobody wants to do anything. I believe that
they probably...you might be able to awake that sleeping giant
where there might be some people who would be willing to try. But
it's going to be a massive, we are going to have to take a massive
-effort...maybe with the establishing of a high school again there
"that might be ah ond, one way of doing it but maybe with whatever
new housing that they are building, if they can bring back or make
sure that Blacks who are going to be displaced that they will be
replaced in those same houses or in that same area as well as
bringing in some other people. It's kind of misconceptions that
can never be...it can be something I believe but that's a massive
overtaking, undertaking. I don't know how it can be done.
(Ms. Daily): And do you think this is what do you think
public officials most need to know about Overtown?
(Mrs. Roache): I think so, I think they need to know that not
only do they come out when it's time vote but they should be held
accountable. Ah, I think they should be living...they should have
to live in the neighborhood. If you are going to represent this
area, you should...you have to live there and if you live there,
you are certainly are going to make it better, the kids you are
going there, you should have live there, you going to have a
business there you should have to live there because anybody, I
believe, whose holding a business in Overtown, 9 times out of 10,
they don't live there.
(Ms. Daily): What should be the relationship between Overtown
and Downtown Miami?
(Mrs. Roache): I think Overtown holds the only property that
the downtown area can spread to. I think that Overtown, that the
people in downtown are just waiting to try to get as many of us
home owners and land owners out of the way so that they can
-continue to spread their downtown area and they are going to
continue to build all of the things that will attract tourist and
the rich people from other countries, the rich foreigners and they
will continue to expand downtown but I think Overtown people ought
to hold onto to their land and I think that they ought to
demand...the churches and the schools ought to demand that the
downtown people invest some money in that area and if they do, if
downtown establishment and politicians do own some land let them be
made to develop it with idea of giving the jobs to the people who
live in Overtown and that they must not only develop it but they
must offer for every thing that you develop you must offer
something to the downtown, if you are going to build a department
store, or you are going to build an, ah, a hotel there then you
must also build ah something else in the Overtown area that's going
to profit the people who live there. I think you ought to make
them, like they make these builders, who are building these housing
complexes, they make them donate a certain amount of money to build
schools before they approve them to build these complexes and these
new, out west, they have to donate a certain money to those areas
and build a school, then they ought to make them donate a certain
amount of their property to build something to help develop the
Overtown area and I, I think until we make them, make the
politicians do those kind of things, they are just going to keep
spreading and spreading and pushing us out because they are trying
to force us to sell our, our little piece of land that we are
trying to hold onto. They are trying to force it by keeping your
taxes up so high that they figure you are never going to be able to
pay it, you are eventually going to give it over to them or they
continue to offer you this and offer you that and think you are
going to give it to them. We may not even able to afford to do
anything with it but we are just holding it just to keep them from
getting it. It's like they are squeezing everybody out of that
area but umm politicians just ought to be made to, to give
something back to that Overtown area. and we go and
ride through that same area and we pay to have our lot cleaned
every so often but we ride around that same area and there are lots
that are overgrown and are never cleaned and never been cleaned in
(Mrs. Roache): ...and we are wondering who owns that land, is
,this land owned by some of those politicians or some of those big
people downtown? Why aren't you forcing them to do what you are
forcing us to do and then they tell you if you don't do it they are
going to put a lien on it and so we continue to pay to have that
lot cleaned off every couple of months where in there are so many
lots around that area and nobody...
(Mrs. Roache): has done anything for them in years and we,
but we are so determined not to let them harass us to the point
that just we just give it up and they charge us the same amount of
taxes that Mr., Mr. so-in-so over here is paying and he has a house
or he has a store, the same amount of taxes he's paying, we pay for
a vacant lot and tell us regardless of whether we don't have
anything on it, it is a piece of land in that area so we have to
pay maximum taxes on that lot. Whatever this man with a building
and store pays, we pay for an empty lot but we are still not
letting them-squeeze us out and until the majority of the people
take that attitude and it may not be that...maybe they can't afford
to do that but until you are determined to not let them push you
around, you can't...if you can hold onto it then they will then say
I have to do something but they are going to try to find someway of
squeezing everybody out of that area.
(Male Voice): Good evening.
(Mrs. Roache): Good evening Bryan.
(Ms. Daily): When you have visitors from out of town, where
do you take them to show them the culture and history of Dade
County's African-American community?
(Mrs. Roache): That's a good one. Well what I have done
recently, I have taken my out-of-town visitors to the Overtown area
and I would say this use to be, that use to be, this is where this
was, this is where that was, this is where I culture use to be then
ah, that's about the only thing that we can do because there is no
where in Miami that I could say we can point to as being the
culture and history of the Black community. I just can take them
and show them what use to be. (Mr. Russet)
(Ms. Daily): Could you describe in your own words what kind
of community you would like Overtown to be in the future, just
about time to wrapping it up because you have said so much about it
(Mrs. Roache): I would like to see Overtown as a vibrant ah
hub of, of a mixture of people but I would like the see the Blacks
as being the owners and the employers of the people who lived and
worked in that area. I would like to see a mixture of people live
there but I want to see the Blacks as being in charge of their own
destiny and being in charge of providing goods and services as they
(Ms. Daily): Well thank you Mrs. Roache (laughter).
(Mrs. Roache): You are quite welcome.
(Ms. Daily): For an interesting interview.
(Mama): I was in ah Nassau this summer and, you ever been to
(Ms. Daily): No.
(Mama): And that place, the hotel that we ah lived in, one of
the largest hotels over there and on their front counter where
people are coming I saw all these people like myself, I mean they
are in charge of everything and I have never seen that, you know
not right here and I was born and reared right here but we were in
the front I mean and that look like that's how they live where as
now but before, years ago, they didn't have all these big places
but they were still in charge of the areas and over here, I mean
those people, everywhere you went, I don't care what you went to
over there at that time in that hotel, those people were in charge.
(Mrs. Roache): I would like to see Overtown like that. Let
everybody come but let us be in charge of it, let us own it, let us
run it, let us do something, you know.
(Mama): Or at least let us
(Mrs. Roache): I have got to go here and see about this house
(Ms. Daily): Okay, this is Yvonne Daily. August 22, 1997,
this is the end of the interview with Mrs. Chrystal Roache.